Australians constantly risk spreading potentially dangerous germs and viruses simply because they are not washing their hands properly, says child rights organisation Plan International Australia as it declares today (Friday, September 4) the nation’s inaugural National Handwashing Day.
Plan International has taught millions of children across the developing world how to avoid the spread of viruses and diseases and is now turning its attention to teaching Australians how they should be washing their hands.
“Many Australians will be thinking that quickly running their fingers under the tap on their way out of the loo is perfectly sufficient when it comes to washing their hands. Well, we’re here to tell you: ‘Australia, you’re doing it wrong!’,” says Plan International Australia CEO Ian Wishart.
“Every day, we help another child in the developing world learn how to wash their hands properly. And if a child can do it, then so can anyone else – and they should, whether it’s in the developing world or here in Australia,” Wishart says.
“Plan International has helped thousands of children across the developing world learn how to wash their hands properly, and we do that for good reasons. Handwashing is the single most cost-effective health intervention – it actually has the potential to save more lives than any single vaccine,” he says.
“Washing your hands properly – and I really mean properly – is actually pretty simple when you know how, and it can combat some common but nasty viruses getting a hold of you and making life pretty unpleasant. I’m talking about things like gastroenteritis, flu and common colds – all of which be prevented with the help of effective handwashing.”
He says proper handwashing involves seven steps:
- rubbing palms together;
- rubbing the back of both hands;
- interlacing fingers and rubbing hands together;
- locking fingers and rubbing the back of them with both hands;
- rubbing your thumbs between your index finger and thumb on both hands;
- rubbing your fingertips on your palms; and
- rubbing both wrists.
Plan International Australia has designed a mini-poster for people to download, print out and put up in their homes and workplaces.
“Handwashing with soap at critical moments is a crucial component in preventing the spread of some of the most debilitating and deadly diseases such as diarrhoea, pneumonia, and even Ebola,” says Wishart.
“Because of this, we at Plan International place a great emphasis on handwashing in our work around the world.”